I don’t know who came up with the Maidenform Bra ads of the mid-twentieth century, but they were a genius. It was one of the most successful advertising campaigns ever. We have all had dreams where we’re in public semi-dressed, and these ads tapped into that. They also tapped into the forbidden thrill of exhibitionism. There were undoubtedly women who looked at these ads and thought, “I dreamed I drove men wild in my Maidenform Bra.”
These examples are a good representation of those that were familiar fifty years ago.
Maidenform had such success with the ads that there was a contest: the best dream suggestion could win $10,000, a fortune in 1955.
The ads were so popular they became a natural inspiration for the folks at Mad. This spoof looks so close to the original you could almost be fooled into thinking it was part of the campaign. It was the kind of thing that advertisers loved; when they were lampooned by Mad they knew their ads were successful.
Artist Wallace Wood even used Jayne Mansfield in his two-page “Far Out Fables” for Cavalcade, a men’s magazine.
Of course, women weren’t the only people who noticed the Maidenform ads. They also got the attention of some wide-eyed males, including me.